Arthritis and Exercise

Arthritis and Exercise

Being active is not only about improving your physical health but also your mental health. Studies have shown that exercise can play a role in managing arthritis. Arthritis can cause pain, stiffness and inflammation in your joints or muscles. Exercising regularly can help to reduce or improve some of the symptoms associated with arthritis, it will also improve the mobility and strength of your joints.

If you are suffering from arthritis, regular exercise may provide the following benefits:

  • Improve joint lubrication and nourishment.
  • Ease joint pain and stiffness.
  • Improve your joint flexibility and range of motion.
  • improve your sleeping patterns.
  • Improve and maintain the density of your bones.
  • Lower your stress levels.
  • Improve your mood.
  • Help to maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Increase your daily energy levels.
  • Strengthen the muscles around your joints.
  • Help to prevent the occurrence of osteoporosis.

Exercise can help to delay the deterioration of arthritic related disabilities and help arthritis patients manage other chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Aerobic and cardio exercises are aimed at getting you to move and increase your heart rate, exercising will help to improve your overall health and fitness levels.

The best form of exercise to choose is based on your personal preference, the severity of your symptoms and whether you have other health problems or musculoskeletal ailments. The exercise you choose to perform needs to improve your flexibility as this will keep the joints functioning correctly and will help to ease joint stiffness. Stretching exercises are a great way to improve the flexibility of the joints and its surround muscles. Your exercise programs should also help you to build muscle strengthen, provide joint stability, and improve your capacity to perform daily tasks.

SMART is a great way to remember how exercise safely when you suffer from arthritis.

Start low and go slow. When starting an exercise program or increasing your level activity, start slowly and pay attention to how your body tolerates it. Arthritis patients may need a bit of time for their bodies to adjust to new levels of activity. Exercise with slow easy movements and take a break if the activity becomes painful. Slow down if you notice inflammation and redness in your joints. Low-impact activities are best suited for persons suffering from arthritis.

Modify your activity if the arthritis symptoms are aggravated, to stay active. Experiencing pain, stiffness and fatigue may vary when you exercise. On some days you may experience these symptoms, versus “good days” where you will not experience any symptoms of arthritis. Remember a little bit of movement is better than none, so try to modify your exercise program as much as possible without making your symptoms worst.

Activities should be joint friendly. The activities or exercise you choose to do should be low impact and easy on your joints. Choose activities that have a low risk of injury and do not cause the joint to twist much. These activities include walking, cycling, dancing or water aerobics.

Recognise safe ways and places to be active. Safety is important for starting and maintaining an exercise plan. If you are currently inactive or are unsure about how to plan or lead your exercise program, consider joining an exercise class as these are great places to get advice on the correct movement to protect your joints. Exercise classes can also help you stay motivated and committed to following an exercise plan.

Talk to a healthcare professional or certified exercise specialist. Exercise specialists or healthcare professionals such as osteopaths are good sources for more information on physical activity.

There are many types of exercises that can improve your flexibility, strength, and overall health. These include:

  • Swimming or water aerobics.
  • Walking or waling with Nordic poles.
  • Chair exercises.
  • Tai Chi or yoga.
  • Low-impact aerobics.
  • Strength training, and
  • Dancing

Osteopaths are trained to diagnose, treat and advise on arthritis conditions. Your osteopathic practitioner will be able to recommend exercises that are tailored to suit your specific needs, depending on your age, fitness level and the severity of your condition. The recommended exercises may include activities to increase your range of motion, as well as strengthening and aerobic exercises.

Here at OsteoVision we can answer your questions about how much activity you should do and what type of exercises best suits your abilities and overall health goals.




Bartlett, S., n.d. Role of Exercise in Arthritis Management. [online] Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center. Available at: <> [Accessed 27 June 2021]. 2018. Arthritis and exercise – Better Health Channel. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 27 June 2021]. 2018. Physical Activity for Arthritis | CDC. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 27 June 2021].

Mayo Clinic. 2020. How do exercise and arthritis fit together?. [online] Available at: <,few%20laps%20might%20seem%20overwhelming.> [Accessed 27 June 2021].